If you or someone you know has been afflicted with social anxiety, it can be terrifying, debilitating and down-right life-changing. It’s why people look for ways to overcome it.
Big Pharma puts in our hands the “guaranteed” relief from our ailments in the form of ingestible chemicals. The problem with that is there are side effects. Medication side effects may be more horrendous than the “fix” they provide, in some cases.
After all, who really wants to deal side effects, when they are just trying to leave the house without feeling overwhelmed?
Thankfully, there are several natural ways to help overcome social anxiety. You don’t necessarily need to rely on pharmaceutically engineered remedies to be the solution. Let’s look at a few other options that are healthy, effective and some of them are even free.
Vitamins and Nutrition
While supplements aren’t actually free, you can find many natural foods rich in anxiety-reducing vitamins and minerals readily available in your grocery store. It’s a good idea to stay away from processed foods. They are filled with preservatives and go against everything natural.
Peruse the vegetable aisle and pick up some leafy greens for a salad, add in some avocado and legumes. Make sure to meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel with just a few simple dietary changes, like avoiding caffeine and limiting starchy carbs.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation has been around for centuries and mindfulness helps you stay in the moment. The idea behind these natural strategies to help overcome social anxiety is to accept the moment. Sounds simple enough, but it actually takes a little practice to be effective.
Mindfulness and meditation can help with spikes of anxiety, and you can practice mindfulness without anyone really knowing.
For example, let’s say you’re at a work Christmas party and social anxiety is really affecting you, so you stay back in the kitchen and pretty much avoid as much interaction with people as possible. You can try a mindfulness exercise, such as this one.
- Hold a drink in your hand.
- You can see the cup, feel the weight of it, focus on what’s in the cup and how full or empty it is.
- Now briefly smell your drink.
- Try to identify the different flavors or ingredients by smell first.
- Then enjoy a tiny sip of the drink, letting it roll all over your tongue.
- If you feel your mind slipping away to things or situations that make you anxious, gently pull your mind back in and focus on your drink.
- Accept the moment, without judgment. Accept that you may not like this moment, but it will pass. Embrace the emotions and let them go.
It takes some practice, but mindfulness exercises can be performed in just about any situation, and they will help control your heart rate, racing pulse and spinning thoughts and fears.
CBT with Exposure Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Exposure therapy to help overcome social anxiety is nothing new. In fact, it’s the preferred modality utilized by many licensed behavioral therapists/counselors. This type of therapy requires “couch time” and talking about the social anxiety, however it is very helpful.
The concept is two-fold. First, CBT is used to help identify negative self-talk and change thought patterns, or suggest alternative thoughts, so you aren’t confined to only the negative. CBT isn’t big on digging into the past and looking for the source or childhood trauma. CBT is more results oriented and focused on the here and now, and how we can make the here and now better.
Second, add in the component of exposure therapy and you’ve got a winning combination of therapeutic intervention to help overcome social anxiety. With exposure therapy you create a hierarchy of social anxiety triggers, deciding from least horrendous to the most hideous of situations, and slowly work up the ladder.
Your therapist isn’t going to throw you into terrifying situations and desert you. The therapists job is to give you the tools and time to develop a resistance to social situations that would cause an attack.
They aren’t for everyone, and especially frightening for those dealing with social anxiety, but groups are usually free and tremendously successful. The idea behind the group approach is to put you in a room with other’s who feel and often react the same way.
Although social anxiety isn’t the same for everyone, the premise is the same. Talking with your peers, getting used to the idea that everyone isn’t really evaluating you and getting verbal confirmation is where the group helps overcome social anxiety.
As you can see there are several natural ways to help overcome social anxiety. This doesn’t have to plague you or your loved one for life.
Time and dedication are the biggest factors in these natural solutions, and it may take a combination of trying and implementing few of them, but at least you are moving forward and not letting your social anxiety win!